A Safe? The hell you say!

Yea, what the hell am I doing with a safe?  Honestly, had someone ever asked, do you see a safe some day in your life, I would have said, hell no, what the hell are you talking about, why would I need one of those things.  What a stupid question?  Do you work for a safe company or something….This from a guy who once kept all of his money in a coffee can under the bed.

From a coffee can to a safe…this marks some sort of significant transition, but from what to what I couldn’t say.  You don’t get a safe not to put something in it.  But I don’t have much to put in it.  My birth certificate, if I knew where it was. Or my passport, if I had one.  Or maybe the death certificates for Joan and WB, if I knew where those were.

Actually I got if for Carol.  She inherited some jewelry from her mother; it’s not all hers, some is to go to her sister.  And I could see she was a little anxious about having this stuff just lying around.  We were going to put it in a safe deposit box at the bank, but the safe deposit box was way too small.  So I said let’s buy a safe.

Knowing Costco sells a little bit of everything I went on line and sure enough they had some safes, and then when I went to do my food shopping, I saw this safe for 100 dollars less than was advertised on line (say alleluia).  So I said to Carol, let’s go get it.

The damn thing weighs about 200 pounds, that’s good in a safe I guess.  But no way I was going to lift it, so we got an assist from the Costco assistants.  One guy helped us get it on the flat, and another guy helped us get in the car.  I have to admit I don’t have the muscle I once had.  Hell, I never had any muscle.  I was thin but wiry. I had more strength than it looked like.  But now I can’t get the lid off bottle of olives.  Well, I could get it off but I don’t want to hurt myself; so I stick a knife in the lid and the damn lid comes right off.

But the helper guys at Costco were polite, and didn’t say anything like, what’s wrong with you, you bony, decaying old man?  The kid lifted the safe like it was a leaf or something.

Carol and I together huffing and puffing rolled it up the stairs to the second floor of our condo.  There it sits slowly sinking into the mess around it.  We have got to figure out where to put it and how to set the lock.  You can do that with fingerprint detection, or with a pin number, or, god bless them, with a key.  So I guess you can set the machine to all three or maybe just use one of the ways.  I favor the key.  But we would have to be sure to put it some place where we won’t forget where it is.  So we are proceeding with caution.


So that’s the safe.  It looks like a safe.  And it says "Safe" all over it.  It’s slowing sinking into the environment.
That’s the inside of the safe and that’s the kitty cat back there.  I didn’t know she was there. 
 This is a link to my bigpictures page where I have stuck up some larger images of the blazing sky over Elwood.




I am not thinking too clearly.  I was thinking about something though.  Oh, yea.  Costco.

We have one of those just three blocks away in this big mall that was put in maybe 10 years ago.  Who knows?  Somewhere in there.

I had never been in a place like that till I went into the Costco.  Santa Barbara doesn’t have a Target or a Wal-Mart.  We do have a K-Mart right across the street from the Costco, but I swear I couldn’t find anything in there—the K-Mart, I mean—and I thought the goods a little shoddy, except for underwear.  That’s where I buy all my underwear.  Come to think of it, but I am due for underwear run considering the current state of my underwear, about which I will not go into detail here.

So Costco when I first went in there was sort of a revelation.  A consumer paradise in a warehouse.  Clearly Costco aims for a slightly more upscale consumer—middle to upper middle class.  It wouldn’t be a consumer paradise for your rich person.

I go there once a week to stock up on food mostly, produce, green stuff, lettuce, tomatoes, avocadoes, apples, bananas, and occasionally a big bag of lemons (because they only have big bags of everything), and maybe a big bag of purple onions, and recently I bought fifty pounds of kitty litter.

I am not a consumer though.  I am a shopper.  I go in there with a list.  I know what I want, I know where it is (unless they have moved it since my last visit), and my purpose is to get in and get out.  So I hate going in the place.  Here I am making a beeline for what I want and I keep bumping into consumers, who are just idling along as if they were taking a walk in the park, and leaving their carts unattended right out in the middle of the isle, or just cutting you off.  These guys don’t know the rules of the road.  And the Costco people seem to want to encourage this behavior because they are handing out samples of this or that at every corner further increasing the possibility for traffic jams.

I am impressed though by all the junk. They seem to have a little bit of everything, including furniture, and out front they sell cars!  Of course the variety is not great.  But the prices for the little bit of everything that they have is usually pretty low.  Hell, they even sell coffins.  And while I don’t know much about coffins, I must say they look pretty good, functional anyway—not that coffins have to do much of anything; as far as I can tell there have been few technological advances in coffins—and the price seems pretty low to me.

Ok.  Now I know why I was thinking about Costo.  I was doing my morning business and from where I was sitting I was able to see this safe Carol and I bought at Costco.  Carol was concerned the cat would get in the safe and somehow suffocate herself.  I don’t get it because the only way the cat could do that would be to go in and reach out her little paw and pull the safe door shut.  A) I don’t think she is physically capable of doing that and B) I won’t know why she would want to.


The sunset off Ellwood yesterday was down right blazing. 



Bosch Again

I had that Bosch picture of hell, part of tryptch called the Garden of Earthly Delights, on my wall for six or seven years, maybe more.  Sometimes when I was sitting in my hole under Joan and WB’s back deck I would just be sitting there in some sort of stupor, brought on by depression or by the thorazine I took to cure it, and find myself looking at that picture.  I looked at it a lot and was surpised, not always, but quite frequently to find something new in it.

They say Bosch is early Rennaisance.  Maybe but I think he is more middle ages.  When I look at his stuff I think Chaucer, not Shakespeare.

This is Leonardo’s “Last Supper.”  Also Rennaisance.  But as you can see this painting is highly controlled.  There’s nothing sprawling or digressive about it.  Perspective controls the whole thing.  Sure stuff is going on. But the whole thing is boxed.



But how the hell is Bosch’s hell organized.  The only general principle I can see is foreground in the bottom and background at the top.  And in between Lord knows what.


Everything is here of course.  But there’s so much happening that to really see what’s there you have to switch your focus to a detail and nothing in the paintings formal structure tells you to look at such details as:
Some folks say the face looking at from behind that skeleton thing is Bosch himself.  Lots of the stuff is said to be symbolic.

Continue reading Bosch Again

Of Anise

The other day when I took that picture back along Elwood Beach framed slight by anise, I reached out, crumbled some of the buds between my fingers, and—what do you know—but my finger tips smelled of anise, no less. 

Anise is one of those non-indigenous species that came from the Old World, Greece probably,  and spread weed-like in the New World.  I call it anise weed and put it in the same category as eucalyptus, another non-indigenous import, this time from Australia.  I feel about anise much as I do about eucalyptus, which I have previously excoriated in these pages as a lethal weed that kills all around it and which in its natural state is a complete fire hazard being dry as hell and filled with oily material.  A eucalyptus goes up like a damn match.

I came to dislike anise and to call it a weed when we arrived in California and  the folks bought that three quarters of an acre at 10194 Ramona Drive.  The first third of that three quarters of an acre was more or less civilized, but the lower two thirds were another matter.  When we first arrived the fields around us were mostly open and full of weeds.  Occasionally a tumble weed would roll right on through.  And anise weed would spring up.

Somehow I had the yearly chore of cutting back the anise weed.  I did this with a hoe and I say cut back because that’s what I did.  The stuff was damn tenacious; you could cut it back to the root easily enough with a hoe, during which I always got blisters because I wouldn’t wear glove or maybe we didn’t have any.  But to really get the crap out, you had to get a shovel and pull up the root and it had, I may say, a very sturdy root system.  So even if you dug a bit, and didn’t get it all, it was sure to come back up again.

I never did defeat it.  But the environment changed.  Houses were built all around us; the fields disappeared and over time so did the anise weed.

Come to think of it a friend who had gone to Greece came back and gave me a bottle of Ouzo.  This is clear stuff; officially a product of the nation of Greece.  It’s called a liquor and it is flavored with anise.  I did not like the stuff much.  But I would take a hit of it now and then.  It was clear in the bottle, and sometimes I would just smell it to clear my nostrils.  I don’t know how long I had that bottle—years and years—and I swear the stuff never went bad.  If that bottle is still out there, you could probably take a hit and suffer no major damage aside from that produced by the Ouzo itself.

And finally anise is used as a flavoring in absinte, a notorious French liquor that was for a time outlawed in the 20th century for its destructive effects.  But now is back in style. For a long time in my most depressed period, in the hole under WB and Joan’s house, I had on my wall this picture by Degas called the “Absinte Drinker”:




Also on my wall over my bed was Bosch’s Hell:




This may suggest my mood at the time.

That is the history of my association with anise, or more exactly, anise weed.

Sea Salt and Salt Water

I spoke today, briefly, with Sister-in-Law Teresa who has suffered terrible sinus problems and who swears by the sea salt rinse, as does JT, for the amelioration of sinus problems.  Also to be used in the case of a cold, as I can testify having used a store bought form of sinus rinse before bed.  I managed to get to sleep without an assist from that wretched Nyquil substance.  Teresa recommends a home brew: 1 gallon distilled water, four tablespoons of sea salt, two tablespoons of baking soda.  She much prefers this home mix as doing the job perfectly well and not causing the burning that some of the store bought kinds do.


Carol and I took a long walk along the Elwood Bluffs as pictured below:





Here’s the spot we usually sit looking in the general direction of SF.


 Here can see the path that leads down from the spot we usually sit to get to the sand.


More in the direction of SF; can’t see the path any more.


I started the walk trying to track down a hawk, though this wasn’t the one.


You’d have to know where to look to see the path to the beach now.


We have walked as far as we can go, to the edge of a golf course surrounded by barbed wire.


The End through anise weed. 




Morose and Mopey

Damn but I am all morose and mopey.  I am frequiently morose and mopey but I usually can make a joke or something or get some distance by thinking about stuff.  But this damn cold, that started last Sunday, has been going full bore for almost a week now, and while no worse, shows no signs of remission.

Now my temperature won’t even get up to 98.6 and hovers somewhere around 98.2.  Also I have taken into taking my blood pressure, with this over the counter blood pressure machine I bought at Costco.  That’s always a bad sign. And not very helpful either, since I can’t seem to get the damn thing to work correctly; it shows anywhere on the high side from 137 which is not good to 120 which would be excellent were it the truth.

Also the Nyquil is altering my mood, and I don’t think it mixes all that well with all my other meds, those being primarily Trazadone, Wellbutrin, and Klonapin.  All nasty little items.  Did I say, I am trying to get off the Wellbutrin, and am switching over to the Trazadone because it’s supposed to be beneficial for sleep.  So I am going off one med and unto another.

Among the side effects listed for Trazadone are: nausea, dizziness, insomnia, agitation, tiredness, dry mouth, constipation, lightheadedness, headache, low blood pressure, blurred vision, and confusion.  When you read the stuff, you kind of wonder if the cure is worse than the disease.  And were this not a description of my normal state I might be more worried. 

But this baby does have one side effect that bothers me quite a bit: priapism.  This is the famous four hour erection that you might get if you take Viagra or one of those meds for ED (ED! Can you believe “erectile dysfunction”—another example of the social construction of something otherwise known as impotence.—but hey, that might be too graphic.)  So everything is all screwed up.  What was once a good thing, now becomes fraught with danger.  Should I sense any life in THAT area I become concerned that something untoward might occur.

I could end up in the damn hospital because some times the only cure for this painful condition is surgery.  My god, they must bleed the penis!  And sometimes, after, well, say goodbye to any life down below.

Which reminds me, I have got to call Jay and see how his surgery went for that prostate thing.

Damn! No wonder I am mopey.

The Social Construction of Allergies

Sorry to hear JT of Greenville, SC, has suffered so from allergies.  Brother Dan way back when, like in the ‘70’s, went in to the doctor when they did those patch tests on a person’s back and his whole back lit up like a neon sign.  He was (is) like allergic to everything: dairy, wheat products, dust, dust mites, super dust—whatever, he was (is) allergic to it.  Time was he would doze off while talking to you from the fatigue of those allergies.  We knew a lot about soy products before other people did. 

I don’t know that Brother Steve has any big allergies.

Brother Dave though he has some strange ones that involve the swelling of body parts.  One time he woke up and there were these red stripes across his back that looked like he had been lashed to mast and whipped with a cat-o-nine tails.  These things are dangerous.  Once or twice or more his tongue has swollen up and his throat too, threatening his air supply.  Just recently he got from the doctor something to put adrenaline into himself in case of emergency.

Me, I have the spring hay fever stuff, with runny eyes, and stuff in the head that too frequently turns into stuff in the chest, and O of course that lactose intolerance I wrote about a while back involving incredibly stinky flatulence.

Now I suppose you could say “allergies” are socially constructed since through out most of human history “allergies” did not exist just people with runny noses and funny stripes on their backs that came out of nowhere.  Now we have a name for those things “allergies” and know something about the causes of these things and how also even to treat them, a little bit, so as to get rid of them.

I suppose the biggest social constructor of whatever has been science.  Sometimes of course they have been wrong.  I have wanted to make a list of now defunct diseases; diseases they said existed but in fact didn’t.  In Dostoevsky, the characters are all the time getting “brain” fever.  I think that’s a sort of historical disease.  And at one time, they thought that out there in outer space was something called “the ether.”  Turns out there are no ether, except the stuff that puts you to sleep.

Now, too, when people die and they write about it in the newspaper, if they say anything about why the person died, they say something like “died of cancer,” or “heart failure,” or “stroke.”  I can remember when a person died and they wrote of “natural causes.”  Nobody dies of “natural causes” anymore.  That’s sad really; it would be kind of comforting to die of natural causes.  The opposite of natural causes would be unnatural causes, like having a tree fall on you or somebody killing you.

But death itself is not a social construction.

The Social Construction of Writing 2

Here I sit (yesterday) in my office feeling like a pig has gone to sleep on the back of my neck and some bird has decided to nest in my cranium.  I am out on my feet from the cold, too much Nyquil, the fact that this is my down metabolic hour, and hell I am always exhausted anyway. 

 I have been sitting here for two hours in this impossible state.  Meanwhile back in South Hall 2112 where my class room is located, students sat, from 1- 250, watching a movie called Fight Club upon which they are going to write their final paper.  I told them I was sick and going back to the office to lie down and take a nap.  I pulled out my thermometer by way of a demonstration, not that they couldn’t tell from my hacking and sneezing, and took my temperature.  It was 98.  So now I am less than normal.

In my enervated state, I fell into a stupor and would look at the clock now and then and think, damn!  But time is passing slowly.  I began to feel bored.  I am hardly ever bored because I am too anxious to be bored, but now I am too exhausted to be anxious, so instead I am bored.  Watching the clock, I felt as if I were watching paint dry or a watched pot that never boils!  And I thought my God! How do the students stand it, how do they stand being locked in that boring old room with boring old me for an hour and fifty minutes at a time no less.

Maybe that’s what college ultimately teaches: boredom tolerance, i.e., being brain dead while performing some repetitious mindless act of something or other or standing behind a counter and waiting for idiot customers to walk up.  Or how to make a living by killing time.

So I started to thinking again for about the 1000thn time: why the hell is Writing 2 an hour and fifty minutes long especially when writing 109, also a writing class, is only an hour and fifteen minutes long.  I have been told that upper division classes, ones listed with three numbers like 1.0.9 are always an hour and fifteen minutes, but why is that I have to wonder.  If I rely on my memory, I think I was told that Writing 2 is longer because it is supposed to be a class with a lab attached.  The teacher was supposed to say something for a while and then the students were to write something for a while, because the only way to get them to write was to do it in class.

But that doesn’t fully explain the length.  Because I remember that at one time Writing Two was only an hour and forty minutes long and then out of nowhere it was an hour and fifty minutes long—a change I was told having to do with the people who schedule the rooms for the whole campus.

Anyway, to make a long story short, the reality of Writing 2 as a temporal entity is clearly socially constructed by a bunch of insane people who are all probably dead by now.

And really is there any way to calculate how long it takes to learn something.

The Social Construction of Sickness

Germs are real.  Quite true.  The way people react to a person infected by germs or how a person feels about getting germy—well, that’s a social construction of sickness.

I read a book on the social construction of the sickness of cancer and how if you look closely at the language used to describe this sickness, it seems to imply that people who get cancer are getting what they deserve.  Cancer as punishment for something one did, rather than, hell, just getting cancer.

Another book writes about the social construction of insanity, how in the middle ages the insane just roamed the population.  Maybe people threw rocks at them or something but they weren’t considered sick.  Come the 18th century, and suddenly they start locking up the insane and treating them like sick people.  Think Bedlam—one of the first insane asylums.

And then those people, that Jack speaks of, who think being sick is all in a person’s head, as if they are lunatics who are imaging that they are sick, and if they just stopped imagining they were sick, then they wouldn’t be sick, as if not imagining snot running out of your nose would make the snot go away.

And then there’s being sick in the head.  As in nuts, insane, or simply depressed.  As far as I can remember in my particular branch of the Tingle family being sick in the head was simply not possible.  If you were sick in the head, something was wrong with you morally or ethically.

If you were sick in the head, you were just faking it and you should be as ashamed of yourself and just crawl in a hole or something—because you were so utterly vile.  Suck it up!  Suck it up!  What the hell does that mean?

I do think there is something called psychosomatic illness.  But this doesn’t mean you want to be sick; it means that deep down there in the unconscious you have a hell of a lot of conflict about something, some inner pain, that might actually affect the immune system and so you get sick.  After all we are constantly swimming with germs, and if the system goes down they get in.

So sickness sometimes can be a sign, as in, hey, dude, you are really really stressed out.  I made a joke some time back, “The Tingle idea of a vacation is getting sick.”

I have never heard of a salt sea wash.  I will check it out.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense.  I still got that cold and am hung over from Nyquil.

Speaking of Accuracy

My experiments with the modern digital thermometer suggest two possibilities: a) they are more frequently inaccurate because delicate, b) they are not inaccurate but because more delicate indicate that the “normal temperature” of 98.6 is itself a gross measurement or rounding off of one’s actual temperature which can and does fluctuate several tenths of a degree up and down in the course of a day.  I am inclined to believe both of these statements are true.

The gross measurement of the old fashioned mercury thermometer was true and remains true because it could not measure small fluctuations in a way that allowed a person at least to see them on the thermometer.

I bring this up to make a point about the so-called social construction of reality, as in duh! Have you had your brains in a freezer or something to make such a big deal about it?  Like at one point, in literary studies, it was like if you didn’t use the idea of the social construction of reality and talked instead about something called reality you were a naïve idiot.  I would say for my part that these guys are naïve idiots.

Duh!  Just think about it as I did years and years before people started talking about the so-called social construction of reality.  I don’t know how long I have been bothered by the fact that there are seven days in a week.  I could make neither hide nor hair of it or locate any reason why this should be the case.  In fact, given that the year is 365 days long, I think it would make more sense to divide by 5.  That works out to a nice even number of weeks in a year: 73.  But if you divide 7 into 365 you come out with this weird 52.21 weeks in a year. 

 So this is a sort of elemental demonstration of the social construction of reality.  A brief check into the history of the seven day week suggests nobody is quite sure why we have it.  But at one point the Romans took up the idea and pretty much forced it, since they were so powerful, on everybody since.

I wrote an article about being an academic from the working class and got attacked (and rejected) by a reader who over and over again accused of me being an idiot because I did not refer to the social construction of the working class and talked as if it actually existed.  Well, if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck and so forth, it is damn well a duck if you ask me.  The seven day week is obviously no less real because it was socially constructed.

But the social construction fanatics seem to think that if you just think “this reality is socially constructed” it ceases to be a reality.  These folks are idealists of the kind Marx attacked when he said changing the way you think about the world is not changing the world.